Posts Tagged ‘April Burkholder’

LSU, with a bullet

January 22, 2008

Georgia. Florida. Utah. Alabama. Stanford. UCLA.

Louisiana State?

LSU junior Ashleigh Clare-Kearney.The LSU Tigers have been making a strong statement so far this season that they belong in the Super Six. First it was at the highest opening meet score in school history, a 195.725 over Denver, Minnesota and Texas Woman’s at the Cancun Classic Jan. 4.

Then it swept Iowa at home and posted a 195.9 against Arkansas, moving in three weeks from being ranked no. 10 to no. 5.

Now, as it looks forward to Saturday’s meet at Georgia, LSU looks stronger than ever. Does that mean it actually has a chance at beating the SEC powerhouse Gym Dogs? Probably not. But with a good score, the surprise team of the season so far could surprise a bit more. 

The lynchpin of LSU’s pre-2007 success was LSU star April Burkholder, who delivered energetic performances and much of the team’s choreography. LSU has did not seem to have a performer who was been able to replace her last year, although Ashleigh Clare-Kearney nad Susan Jackson, a former training partner of Carly Patterson and Hollie Vise at WOGA, are both fairly strong.

As it happens, Clare-Kearney is this week’s SEC Gymnast of the Week.

Ashleigh Clare-Kearney, 2007 SEC Championships, Uneven Bars:

In addition, junior Clare-Kearney is currently ranked no. 1 in the nation in the all-around, tied with Florida’s Melanie Sinclair.

Can they keep it up? Could LSU, ranked 10th in preseason polls, break into the Super Six? Nothing is certain. Even Georgia has hardly exceeded expectations so far this season.

Also: New blog The Olympic Effect takes a closer look at Florida’s successes and shortcomings, suggesting the former is due to successful politicking by coach Rhonda Faehn. Faehn, of course, learned it during her elite days with Bela Karolyi, who is undoubtedly the greatest politicker in gymnastics history.

The Top 10:
1 Florida 196.975
2 Georgia 196.642
t3 Alabama 196.362
t3 Utah 196.362
5 LSU 195.725
6 Michigan 195.675
7 Oklahoma 195.583
8 UCLA 195.550
9 Stanford 195.375
10 Arkansas 195.275